Sometimes during a race (especially the longer distances), you inevitably hit a tough patch. I remember my first marathon and my first ‘bad patch’ came REAL EARLY (i.e. mile 14 of 26.2!). I had no tools in my back pocket to use and continued to struggle with it for the remainder of the race. Over time, I’ve come to find a few things that have helped me focus my attention AWAY from my mind and back on the race. I would LOVE to hear some of your tricks too though because mine don’t always work every time.
Remind myself of my training. Those runs where I struggled and thought I wouldn’t be able to make it. Those snowy/rainy/humid/hot miles that felt never-ending. If I could make it through that, then I could make it through anything.
Focus on when the next aid station is. This really helps me in those later miles of a marathon when I just want to see that finish line. If I can get to the next aid station, then I can reset my mind and then focus on the next one.
Change my music/ put headphones on/ put my pump-up jams on. I’ve ran a few marathons now where I will run for most of the race without my music and then put it on in those last 5-6 miles of the race. This almost always helps get me through a bit of rough patch.
Remind myself why I’m doing this. Maybe it’s to hit a new milestone, maybe I set a goal to hit a certain time goal a long time ago and I’ve come this far to not give it my best effort, maybe it’s for those who can’t run, maybe it’s for a charity. Whatever it is- remember your WHY. In Vegas, it may sound silly, but my “why” those last few miles was getting done faster to get home and meet our new kitties. Whatever works!
Think ahead to my post-race meal/activities. I always make sure to have something exciting planned post-run. For Moab, I was so excited to have the opportunity to explore a National Park post-race that that kept me going those last few miles when the air was dusty and uphill.
What helps get you through a “tough patch” in a race? Tips? Tricks?